January 2011

Residents making a difference from Soho Neighbourhood Birmingham by Colin Hanno

I had to share this information with you as I think it is a good example of residents taking a proactive stand to make a difference in their neighbourhood,

In October 2009, I was contacted by a very irate resident over a derelict land next to her house which was vermin infested and had become a regular spot for fly tipping. After visiting the site it became apparent why residents  from Milton Grove was livid with the Council Housing team.  It is evident that while the land had been cleared annually a long term strategy was needed to reduce the problems experienced by residents living in close proximity of the derelict site.

Milton Grove-July 2010Overgorwn Site-Milton Grove July 2010

Following continuous campaigning from residents, particularly Sheila Edwards, who went as far as bringing this issue to the attention of local Councillors and Senior Officers,  I can gladly say that all her hard work have paid off,  the Soho Housing Liaison Board has since invested in the clearance, turfing and fencing  of the area.

Milton Grove Jan 2011Transformed Milton Grove Jan 2011

This is a good example of residents playing an active role to influence change in their locality. The actions of these residents  not only help to tackle environmental issues but also contribute to making the area a cleaner and safer place to live, I suppose this is one aspect of  social capital which fit nicely with the concept of “big society” in the sense  that it is partnership working  between service providers and residents in tackling local issues.

Soho Finger Neighbourhood Forum
Tuesday 18th January 2011
Soho Community Hall
6.30m – 8.30pm
Welcome – Happy New Year
Approve last Minutes
Matters Arising
Morrison’s Update
Neighbourhood Management Update
Environmental Update – Dervan Seville
Soho Neighbourhood Police Team  Update
Forum upcoming Event
Street Champions Update
Residents Concerns
Date of next meeting Tuesday 15th March 2011 at 6.30pm

Soho Finger Neighbourhood Forum

Soho Community Centre, Chapel Street, Handsworth
Minutes from Residents Meeting
Tuesday 16th November 2010
Attendance: PC Rattu, PC Richards, Councilor Lal, Councilor Spence, Dervan Seville, Committee Members (5) and Residents (13)
Chair welcomed all Visitors and Residents.
Apologies: Colin Hanno, Cllr Lal (arriving late)
Minutes from last years AGM were read and approved.
No matters arising.
Morrison’s Job update and Recruitment Feedback
Problems getting through to Job Centre for Interviews.
Sorry if you didn’t get through but lines were very busy.
Residents at meeting knew of people who got interviews.
Report requested for January’s meeting to see who got placements in the Soho area.
Neighbourhood Management Update
Chair gave update in Colin Hanno’s absence
Double yellow lines have been authorized at Cross Street, Belmont Road, Wattville Road and Green Lane.
Resident Parking on Match Day’s at Paddington Road and Uplands Road.
Age Concern Forms were given to Resident’s for over 60’s for help with gardens, up to £200 for garden makeover.
Hopefully next year the scheme will be for everyone.
BCC did a walkabout and trees are to be cut back at metro walkway.
Wattville School to be secured again, windows broken at back and people thought to be living there.
Petition needed to pass the land over to the Forum.
If Residents have any feedbacks let Ruel know and he will let Colin know.
Environmental Update – Dervan Seville
Dervan is no longer in Soho he has been moved to Kings Norton.
Garage on Kentish/Wattville road has been closed.
Environmental Trainees will be clearing accesses to alleyways in December.
Section 4 served at No.10 Junction Road.
Cross St/Wattville Rd rats on land, owners at fault Dervan will investigate and take photos at the back of the porter cabins.
Dervan does all he can when he is in the area.
Soho Neighbourhood Police Team – PC Rattu and PC Richards
Majority of Residents aware of Restructure, bigger area and cut backs on Police since April.
Last 3 months increase in burglaries, robberies and car crime.
Burglaries: 34 in September, 39 in October and 13 so far for November.
Be more vigilant, and when you are out lock windows and leave a light or music on.
Extra vigilance is needed at this time of year any concerns phone the Police.
More Plain clothes officers and PCSO’s in area.
Robberies: 20 in September, 24 in October and 9 so far for November.
Due to the high price of gold, jewellery is being snatched Residents were told to cover any jewellery worn and go out in pairs.
Car crime: 79 in September, 32 in October and 16 so far for November.
Sprinter vans are being targeted and taken out of the country and sold let neighbours know.
Police are targeting individuals known to them.
Designated Police team to cover Soho Road and surrounding area.
Resident asked about cycling on pavements we were told it was illegal and could result in an £80 fine.
Ruel gave feedback on the Neighbourhood Tasking Group meeting he had attended: Residents from the Community to get together on Tuesday 14th December to try and iron out issues affecting them.
The Police were thanked as they had to leave the meeting.
Treasurers Report
Report will be completed by next meeting.
£5000 not spent.
Expenses incomplete.
Travel expenses were questioned on schedule.
Resident was concerned that funding was not used and could have been used for something else.
Councilor Spence suggested in future if funding is not used to contacting the funding organization and suggesting it’s used for something else.
Working in partnership with other Forums works better than individual projects.
£7000 community chest consisted of Resident Involvement Day, building a Website, Capacity Building, and in February a Local Residents Awards Evening – Nomination Forms will be available in January.
Forum Members Election
All previous Committee members were re-elected.
New Committee Members and Street Champions are needed.
Residents Concerns
Bushes cut down in Kentish Road but did not clear any rubbish, unlike Wattville Road which has new turf, cleared out and is maintained.
Watville School is participating in Grow it Eat it.
Planned work on area behind Kentish Road has gone back to planning due to Resident complaint.
Booth Street Resident is happy with Council after noise was recorded after complaining about noise from parties.
Woodland Road has leaves which have not been cleared and bags not collected Ruel to inform Dervan and Colin.
Photo has been taken of tree in Brearley Street, Resident is happy.
Forum up and coming Events 2011
Recognition of Local Awards.
Resident Involvement Day.
Bigger and better things for the Community.
More ideas needed for the young people in the Community and working in partnership with Jadeal from Oakland’s.
Morrison’s have sent a proposal for a Football Team, notice board and meeting room.
Ruel thanked Councilors, Police, Residents and Neighbourhood Management.
Everyone was urged to support Colin as he gets so much done in our Community. 
Councilor Spence told the meeting Hotspots had been identified and are being cleaned up and turfed, fencing in Junction Road is shoddy, trees in Brearley Street need attending to, and this work will be done.  We must all help ourselves by working together to make the area better by letting the Council or Counselors know of any problems.
Councilor Lal thanked Soho Forum and Residents for all their hard work and commitment over the last year.
Date of next meeting Tuesday 18th January 2011  6.30pm-8.30pm.


BRUMMIES are being offered free NHS courses to shed the pounds.

Size Down is run by Birmingham Community Health NHS Trust’s dieticians.

The daytime courses involve 12 weeks of 90 minute sessions detailing healthy meals and how to lose weight.

There are sessions at Soho Health Centre, in Handsworth, from January 14 at 10am to 11.30am.

Read More http://www.birminghammail.net/news/top-stories/2011/01/06/free-slimming-classes-for-birmingham-adults-97319-27937002/#ixzz1B0xW2RWM

A GROUP of inquisitive passers-by wander into a Birmingham shop, lured in by a sign on the front door promising free tea and cake.

They almost look set to retreat, their faces bewildered, until Samina Zahir gives them a friendly welcome and offers them a cuppa.

“I’m not surprised people ask whether it’s free,” she says with a smile. “It’s not often in life you get something for nothing.”

But that’s exactly what the Inhabit tearoom in Grove Lane, off Soho Road, Handsworth, is offering – and refreshments are not the only thing on the menu.

Those brave enough to take a tentative step over the threshold of the store will also be offered a chance to get creative, designing teaspoons, decorating furniture or learning photography skills.

Read More http://www.birminghammail.net/lifestyle/latest-features/2011/01/10/shopping-free-teas-plan-to-revive-high-street-97319-27959756/#ixzz1B0vAgBKA

Handsworth Evolution: music documentary

Steel Pulse
Birmingham reggae band Steel Pulse still play regularly around the world

Handsworth has produced many much loved Reggae bands and musicians including Steel Pulse and Musical Youth.

In a radio documentary called Handsworth Evolution, musicians and singers take a trip down memory lane.

Presented by Robin Valk, Basil Gabbidon, Apache Indian and others talk about the significance of Handsworth to Birmingham’s music scene.

From the Ska and two-tone era to the rise of sound systems and house parties.

The evolution begins

During and after the second world war there was an influx of West Indian workers brought to the UK, this is when world renowned jazz musician Andy Hamilton came to the UK. He was among the first West Indian residents that settled in Birmingham areas such as Handsworth, Balsall Heath and elsewhere.

Andy Hamilton
At 92 years old Andy Hamilton can still be heard playing his sax across Birmingham

At 92 years old Andy Hamilton still plays regularly around Birmingham and has done for over 60 years with a wide variety of musicians including musician and record producer Muff Winward.

Muff Winward: “The black musicians that started up in Birmingham were first generation and it was very reggae rather than RnB, it took another 20 years before their children came along and made a multi-cultural difference.

“Whoever piled off the boat and turned out to be musicians, those were the guys we met. Andy being a classic example who was playing around then. We met him many times on our gigs because he was a jazzer and we played in many jazz clubs.”

In the 50s, calypso had already had a polite appeal to white audiences, things then changed in the 60s when genres like ska and two-tone broke out and became popular with white teenagers. This time led to the rise of the ska and two-tone bands in Birmingham and Coventry.